The main area of interest for most tourists will be the National Mall, the large urban park located in the center of DC between Constitution Ave. and Independence Ave. It is surrounded by several Smithsonian museums, such as the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum, monuments such as the Washington Monument and theLincoln Memorial, and other sites of interest like the Reflecting Pool and the National Mall Carousel.
While this area is obiously most famous for the government buildings it houses, visitors can also get a taste of neighborhood life by heading to Eastern Market flea and farmers market that has a wide array of local arts and crafts. A stroll down 8th street SE is also recommended - this strip includes several restaurants and bars worth checking out, including Belga Cafe, Banana Cafe and Piano Bar and Tapatinis.
Georgetown is known for the university holding the same name and hundreds of shops and restaurants, of course, but also for its historic homes, gardens that show off its history as a legendary 18th century port town. (The modern day Georgetown boasts a waterfront park and restaurant, business complex on the Potomac River). Named after King George II, the neighborhood also boasts the famous C&O Canal.
Dupont Circle is another great DC neighborhood. The area combines residential homes (look for some fine Beaux Arts, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Queen Anne homes) with modern office buildings, embassies (Massachusetts Avenue, the boulevard that cuts through the heart of DuPont Circle, is considered "Embassy Row") with a lively restaurant and nightclub scene. The centerpiece of this busy, urban space is the magnificent, white marble Dupont Memorial Fountain, designed by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial.
Adams Morgan is a hip neighborhood in NW DC. It's centered around the intersection at Columbia Rd. and 18th St NW. A lovely neighborhood filled with vibrant artwork and a diverse population. Home to a row of popular bars and clubs, Adams Morgan is peaceful during the weekdays but jumping at night and on the weekends, filled with bar-hoppers. Full of wonderful ethnic restaurants, you can find whatever youre craving, from Ethiopian and Indian to French and Mediterranean. A laid-back artsy neighborhood that's great for culture and the bar scene.